1. A Bird's Eye View of South African History

In this lesson the class identifies historical turning points in South African history.

Resources Needed
Terms and definitions for starter activity, map of the world.

Curriculum Links
This lesson plan has links to curriculum aims in History.

Cut out sets of sorting cards and dates, write down terminology and definitions for starter activity.

Learning Objective
To understand the chronological order of important events in the history of South Africa

Learning Outcome
To be able to identify historical turning points and explain why they are important.

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Identify terminology which the class may find difficult in the sorting cards (some examples are below) Write the terms and definitions on separate pieces of paper and distribute to the class. They then have to move around the room and find their “match”. 
Examples of terms to use: BP (before present), AD (anno domini), pastoralists, hunter-gatherers, navigator, colony, tribe, gold rush, chronological, turning point. 

Main Activity
Using a map of the world ask the class to find South Africa. What do students already know about the country? (E.g. the 2010 Football World Cup was held there, Nelson Mandela was South African, a lot of wine comes from there.) Ask them whether they can guess why South Africa was important to world trade before the age of air travel (ships would have to sail around the southernmost point of the African continent to get to India and might need to stop).

Look at the idea of a “turning point” in history. What does it mean? Can students think of any examples of important events or “turning points” from other countries or periods?

Working in pairs or groups, students match the dates to the description of events in South African history. Go through them as a class. What influence have European countries had on South African history?

In groups students sort the events into order of importance, explaining their decisions. Feedback as a class. Are there any clues in the events which they have looked at that explain why South Africa might be poor today?

Ask students to pick three “turning points” out of the events they have looked at. They then research these in more detail for homework and draw a comic strip illustrating what happened, explaining their choices beneath.

Students pick one thing that they have learned about South Africa’s history and one thing which has surprised them.